Step­fa­ther on trial for 1968 mur­der as vic­tim’s brother fi­nally tes­ti­fies

‘Wit­ness’ who was three at time says he saw tod­dler’s head be­ing smashed against a fire­place

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Martin Evans CRIME COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A PEN­SIONER has gone on trial ac­cused of killing his step­son al­most 50 years ago, af­ter the vic­tim’s brother – who was just three years old at the time – came for­ward to tell po­lice he had wit­nessed the mur­der.

David Dearlove, 71, has al­ways claimed Paul Booth, his 19-month-old step­son, died af­ter bang­ing his head when he fell out of bed at their home in Stock­ton-on-tees in Oct 1968.

But in 2015 he was ar­rested and charged with mur­der, when Peter Booth, Paul’s brother, spot­ted a faded fam­ily pho­to­graph on Face­book and came for­ward to de­scribe how he had wit­nessed Mr Dearlove smash­ing the tod­dler’s head against a fire­place.

De­spite be­ing only three at the time of the al­leged mur­der, Mr Booth re­called wit­ness­ing the event through the liv­ing room door, which was ajar.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Mr Booth had lived with the mem­ory for al­most half a cen­tury, but was prompted to come for­ward when he saw a pic­ture that a rel­a­tive had posted on Face­book of Mr Dearlove hold­ing his baby brother.

An­gered by the seem­ingly happy pic­ture, he con­fided in a cousin what he had wit­nessed and she went to po­lice, who launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr Dearlove was ar­rested at his home in Great Yar­mouth, Nor­folk, where he lived with his wife of 36 years, and charged with mur­der and child cru­elty.

Open­ing the case, Richard Wright QC, pros­e­cut­ing, said: “There was and is no doubt as to what med­i­cal con­di­tion caused the death of Paul Booth. He died be­cause of a se­vere in­jury to his brain that had it­self been caused by a frac­tured skull. The real is­sue, then in 1968 as now nearly 50 years later in 2017, is what caused that in­jury?”

De­spite be­ing alone with the tod­dler at the time of the in­ci­dent, Mr Dearlove was not ar­rested and a sub­se­quent in­quest recorded an open ver­dict, ef­fec­tively clos­ing the case.

Mr Wright told the jury: “So it re­mained for nearly 50 years un­til March 30 2015. It was on that day that a cousin of Paul Booth con­tacted the po­lice. She was mak­ing the call on be­half of Paul’s brother Peter, the lit­tle boy who had been al­most four years old on the night his brother died.

“Peter told the po­lice that the death of Paul was not the re­sult of an ac­ci­den­tal fall out of bed. He had in fact seen how Paul came to be in­jured when he had crept down­stairs to get a drink.

“Through a gap in the door into the sit­ting room, he had seen David Dearlove swing­ing Paul around whilst hold­ing on to his an­kles and had watched as his step­fa­ther smashed the lit­tle boy’s head into the fire sur­round, caus­ing the fa­tal in­jury to his skull by the im­pact.

“The death of Paul Booth had been no ac­ci­dent, it had been as the re­sult of a de­lib­er­ate act. It had been mur­der.”

The court heard that Mr Booth had re­ported the in­ci­dent to the po­lice in the early Nineties when he lived in Birm­ing­ham and again around 2005, when he lived in Sus­sex, but the case was never taken up.

The jury was also told that Mr Dearlove al­legedly sub­jected Mr Booth and his sis­ter to vi­o­lence and cru­elty, in­clud­ing lock­ing them out of the house on freez­ing win­ter nights.

Mr Dearlove de­nies the mur­der and un­law­ful killing of Paul Booth and fur­ther de­nies three charges of child cru­elty – de­fined as as­sault, ill treat­ment or ne­glect caus­ing in­jury to health – in 1967 to 1968.

The trial, ex­pected to last three weeks, con­tin­ues.

An old pho­to­graph of David Dearlove and Paul Booth, right, prompted Peter Booth, above, to ac­cuse Mr Dearlove, top, of Paul’s mur­der. Far right, a news­pa­per re­port from 1968

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